Bake It.

Baked oatmeal: a brunchtime basic in our home.

We know I fancy myself a busy lady.  I try my best to balance being a mother with working outside the home while still finding time to cook and clean.  It can be a lot sometimes.

But guess what? Baking helps.

I’m not talking about the zen state some people enter when they knead bread dough or frost cinnamon rolls. I’m talking about the basics, y’all: breakfast and dinner.

I fell into baking the basics when I was looking for easy dishes to cook that involved very little time and very easy cleanup. Allow me to introduce you to three of my favorites:

1. Baked oatmeal (adapted from Simply in Season).

This is a slightly sweet dish and pretty aromatic because of the cinnamon. Dotted with blueberries, it also makes for a lovely presentation.  Baked oatmeal tastes rich but is not high in fat, and it is so filling it can take the place of a quickbread at brunch.

Now if you don’t usually like oatmeal, still give this dish a try: the texture differs from that of from stove-top oatmeal, which can sometimes feel a bit slimy.

Nearly every time I make baked oatmeal, someone asks me for the recipe and many are surprised at the simplicity of the method.

Ingredients:

Dry:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Wet:

  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg

Also: 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

*Because it is so dry where I live and I don’t make baked goods all that often, I’ve stopped buying brown sugar – it just dries out.  Instead, I use white sugar and molasses to make my own.  If you’d like to try that, you’ll need 1/3 cup of white sugar and 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon of molasses (depending on how dark you like your brown sugar).

You can either mix the sugar and molasses well (it should look just like brown sugar when you’re finished) and add to the dry ingredients, OR add the white sugar to the dry ingredients and mix the molasses with the applesauce before adding the rest of the wet ingredients.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease a 2-quart baking dish (I’ve also used a 1.5-quart – it just extends the cooking time a little).

Mix the dry ingredients together; this can be done ahead of time.

Mix the wet ingredients together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Fold in the blueberries.

Pour the entire mixture into the baking dish.

Bake about 25 minutes.

You can serve as-is, or in bowls with warm milk poured over.

2. Baked eggs.

Pesto baked eggs for one.

I love a tasty egg, so I’m not sure how I went so long without trying baked eggs.  I love that you don’t have to hover over this dish (as I feel I have to do with fried or scrambled eggs) to make sure the eggs aren’t overdone.  Plus, if you make these in ramekins or a casserole dish, the cleanup is easy—no scraping or scrubbing. Just wait until the dish has cooled, soak with water for a bit, and wash clean.

You can find a basic recipe for baked eggs here (I’ve used this recipe to make the eggs for huevos rancheros).

Here are my gussied-up versions:

Pesto baked eggs.

For each serving, you’ll need:

  • About a tablespoon of frozen spinach, thawed to room temperature (or use fresh spinach if you like).
  • A teaspoon of pesto sauce (or more if you love the stuff).
  • Two eggs.
  • A tablespoon of pecorino cheese.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease or butter a 10-ounce ramekin.

Place the spinach at the bottom of the ramekin.

Spoon the pesto sauce over the spinach.

Crack the eggs into the ramekin.

Sprinkle with cheese and season to taste.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are as firm as you like them.

Baked eggs with cheese for the family.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter or grease a 1.5-quart casserole dish.

Crack 6-8 eggs into the dish.

Sprinkle with cheese of choice (don’t overdo it, guys).

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bake 10 to 15 minute minutes or until the eggs are as firm as you like them.

3. Baked rice.

Thanks to the More-with-Less Cookbook for this easy recipe.  Three great things about this recipe: It yields fluffy rice, I don’t have to wait for water to boil, and cleanup is a cinch.  Unless I am making Spanish rice (which requires you to toast the rice in a skillet), I never ever make rice on the stove anymore.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine in covered casserole dish:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup rice (brown or white)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, margarine, or oil

Cover and bake about 45 minutes, depending on your oven.  The rice is finished when the water is absorbed.

Gussy it up:

One way: Add curry powder to taste, ¼ – 1/2 cup of pistachios and a 1/4-1/2 cup of golden raisins to the rice, water, and fat.

Another way: Substitute stock for water and add ½ of an onion (chopped) and herbs of choice to the rice, liquid, and fat.

Reposted from: http://iriesgeneralinterest.wordpress.com

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